‘Prove I met dodgy people’- Nene

Ex-finance minister Nene challenges EFF to bring evidence of claims against him to state capture inquiry

Former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene concluding his testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday, March 14 2019.
Former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene concluding his testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday, March 14 2019.
Image: Alon Skuy

Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene has come out guns blazing against his detractors in the EFF, inviting the party to approach the state capture inquiry with evidence of his alleged wrongdoing.

Nene also revealed that EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu sent him a text message after he was appointed in February 2018, trying to influence his decision on whether or not to place the controversial VBS bank under curatorship.

In October, when Nene initially appeared before the commission, the EFF launched a barrage of public statements which included allegations that he had a corrupt relationship with the Gupta family and that his son, Siyabonga Nene, benefited from a R900m funding deal from the Public Investment Corporation while his father sat as its board chair.

Nene resigned soon after his appearance when it emerged that he met the Gupta family several times despite telling the public that he had not during a previous media interview.

Now Nene is inviting the EFF to come to the commission with proof that he met “dodgy business people” during his tenure as deputy finance minister – where he also chaired the board of the Public Investment Corporation – and subsequently as finance minister.

“I did not promote any funding from the PIC to any companies involving my son,” Nene said on Thursday.

“I deny all the allegations. I truly can only describe these reports and social media commentary as baseless and unfounded.

“It might have been an attempt to tarnish my integrity and therefore bring my evidence before this commission into question.

“These attacks on the Treasury had started mounting even prior to that.

“It is common knowledge that Shivambu’s brother benefited from the VBS matter.”

Nene said Shivambu’s text message was an attempt to “influence my decision” on VBS.

Shivambu wrote: “It looks like VBS will be placed under curatorship, mainly due to something that National Treasury had not clarified in terms of the accounts of municipalities, which were withdrawn due to NT’s instruction.

“It becomes sad when a black-owned bank gets to be placed under curatorship because of things that can be managed different.

“Please assist because it looks like the whole thing will need your final approval.”

The bank was placed under curatorship in 2018 after reports found almost R2bn was looted from the institution.

Nene also admitted on Thursday that he visited the Guptas about eight times, twice as minister and six times as deputy.

He previously did not disclose exactly the number of times he visited the family.

Before Nene took the stand, the commission heard testimony from former department of mineral resources treasurergeneral Thibedi Ramontja, who lifted the lid on working conditions under then minister Mosebenzi Zwane in 2015.

He said he was kept in the dark and Zwane’s advisers, who arrived with him when he was appointed in September 2015, took over the daily running of the department.

What is significant is that a similar scene played out at the Treasury when Des van Rooyen was appointed as finance boss.

Former Treasury directorgeneral Lungisa Fuzile previously testified that Van Rooyen arrived with Mohamed Bobat, a Gupta associate, who was said to have acted as a law unto himself, handing out instructions to senior officials even before the minister was sworn in.

The commission will continue on Friday when lawyers representing Duduzane Zuma will cross-examine former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.